Tag Archives: Wissa

The dream is still on (although which one?)

8 May

Just when this season couldn’t get any more exciting, it delivers again. Brentford cruising to a 3-0 defeat of Southampton that sees us up to 43 points and chasing down tenth place. The dream is still on (although which particular dream depends on your viewpoint – let’s just say that there will be more than half an eye on our final two opponents this afternoon, with both Everton and Leeds United in action). For now though, it’s all about another fine win and another clean sheet.

Let’s be blunt. This felt as easy as they come. Brentford confident. Dominant. On the front foot and taking the game to their opponents from the off. West Ham levels of game management. Southampton unable to cope with wave after wave of red and white shirts. Alarm bells had been set ringing by Mathias Jensen before Pontus Jansson broke the deadlock on thirteen minutes. Ivan’s ball into the box steered home with one touch. The smiles broad. The celebrations huge. The crowd ecstatic. 

The smile on his face says it all

Still, if that set them off it was nothing compared to what happened a minute later. This time, Yoanne Wissa racing clear and lashing it home from the edge of the area. Advantage being played after Christian Eriksen had been taken out by two Southampton players. The trademark ‘W’ celebration delivered to the joy of all. He might have had another, too, but somehow conspired to shoot over when it seemed easier to score. Oh well. It made little difference as 2-0 at HT eventually finished 3-0. Kris Ajer weaving through the box for a wonderful finish through the legs of Fraser Forster. The celebrations from the crowd only beaten by those at full time.

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages, as the regular reader will be aware. Whilst the player debrief will come later, for now it is a chance to enjoy a job well done. To see Thomas Frank not afraid to mix it up. The midfield conundrum posed in yesterday’s column answered not by Vitaly being replaced with Josh Dasilva but, rather, Mathias Jensen. The Dane unlucky not to score early on with a chance that, on TV, looked a lot harder than it had done in the cut and thrust of the live action arena. I do wonder if this was the ground being prepped for the Dasilva-Norgaard-Eriksen midfield trio that all supporters are so desperate to see start a game. Josh eventually making it on to the field and playing a key part in the build up to Ajer’s game sealing goal    

David Raya was solid as rock when needed. The one time he was beaten, offside and VAR cane to the rescue for Brentford. Southampton may feel hard done by but the decision was the correct one. The one chance to haul themselves back in to things snuffed out as quickly as it flickered in to view. Instead, Brentford had it under control in a game played out in a carnival atmosphere of singing and shouting. Not a mobile phone or light show in sight. Any Coldplay stylings deemed very much surplus to requirements.  

Six wins out of the last nine played for Brentford. Confidence booming and not even a green jacket required. Hey, a promise is a promise. Next up, the trip to Everton on Sunday. They travel to Leicester City this  afternoon and relegated Watford on Wednesday. Both fixtures key to their survival hopes. Especially with Leeds United also deep in the mire and making the visit to Champions League chasing Arsenal this afternoon before hosting Chelsea midweek. All four games will make compulsive viewing for more than one reason. By the time we’re back together again in a week, the shape of the table could see one or both clubs in even deeper trouble than they already are. Could see Brentford in position as the ones to administer a potentially fatal blow – should things go badly today and on Wednesday.

A campaign that has been about as exciting as any on record may still have more than a few twists in the tail. All that’s to come, of course. For now, let’s put our feet up and luxuriate in the warm afterglow of victory. A wonderful Saturday afternoon has set up an equally exciting last two games. 

I can’t wait  – see you there.

Fans of all ages celebrate Brentford’s third

Nick Bruzon

Might City take a tumble? Could we go top ten?

9 Feb

After the euphoria of Saturday’s 4-1 FA Cup victory, time for a massive dose of reality and coming back down to earth with a bump. Manchester City may have breezed into the fifth round at the weekend but their challenge tonight is as tough as it comes when Brentford make another trip to the North-West for a Premier League fixture. Just as for Frank Lampard’s Everton, who discovered that the same level of high scoring success in the pursuit of Wembley may not translate to the league when they were thumped at Newcastle United. Defeat for Watford at West Ham, whose selection of cat kicking Kurt Zouma was about as shameless as it gets given the words out of the club and manager David Moyes, and another draw for Burnley mean that the bottom three, or even five, remain relatively detatched. Whilst some Brentford fans are feeling the angst about getting potentially sucked into that pack, the simple fact is that victory over Manchester City by 9 goals or more will see us back in the top ten. Simple.

Granted, you can’t bet on higher than a 5-0 victory for Brentford or more than six goals being scored in total (at least, not on my bookmaker’s site). Even then the odds of 250-1 and 5-1 respectively suggest that victory by the magic margin may be something best confined to the realms of wishful thinking. The Manchester City squad one which runs so deep that even if they picked Mr. Tumble, you’d still expect the bookies to back them.

Pick him, Pep. Please

Thomas Frank would use his press conference yesterday to outline the challenge although also acknowledging the fact that, “It’s still 11 vs 11 tomorrow night. We are looking forward to a massive challenge, maybe our biggest of the season, but it is about believing that you can get something out of it and giving it a massive go.”

He was also savvy enough to note that, “If we go and get something out of the match it’ll be one of the biggest surprises in this year’s Premier League. Manchester City are the clear number one in the league, playing some brilliant football and having a fantastic season“.

This, very much, the expectation from just about everyone outside TW8. It is a free hit of a game. On paper a seemingly impossible task in a match with nothing to lose, barring the presumed result, and everything to gain.  Manchester City are league leaders and champions. Expected to romp home. To pick up where they left off against Fulham on Saturday afternoon. It’s a shame the EFL club were unable to offer any real resistance to City. Even to take them to extra time. But there you go.

Indeed, if there was any consolation to take from our own thing at Frank Lamp etc etc (we’ll take that as assumed from now on) Everton, it was that at least our torture was over in regulation time. There was no dragging it out any longer. No extended runout for a largely first choice XI.  Likewise, the returns of David Raya and that wonderful cameo from Josh Dasilva late on. Christian Eriksen is not available for selection as yet (in itself, about as bizarre a statement as one might have considered commiting to paper at the start of the season) but Yoanne Wissa and Bryan Mbeumo are both back in contention after missing out at Goodison Park.  

Christian remains in training, for now

For those expecting a change in formation, keep on waiting. Thomas also using his conference to confirm that the three centre back set up remains for now. It is more how we get the best out of it. With no word given on Ethan Pinnock – that I saw – short of this being some double bluff then one would expect things to remain as they were on Saturday. Hopefully the set piece coach has done his thing in training. With opposition corner kicks being the equivalent of a penalty kick at present, such is the ease with which goals come, the ability to head the ball (and outwards) will be crititcal. For all we were talking up the rewards that racing to and and past brackets could afford Brentford in terms of table position by full time, the simple fact of the matter is that unless we’ve upped our defensive game rapidly since the Everton debacle, it could be City relying on the abacus to keep track.

For what its worth, I’m expecting a ten times better performance tonight. Win, lose or draw this is about as big as it gets. As hard as it comes. Manchester City away is always the toughest game of a campaign for any other side, let alone a team who have never played at this level before. Then again, perhaps going into it without the baggage of past experience  – given that for most other sides that experience is usually a brutal one – is the best weapon up our sleeves.

If anything, it is our performances against the top teams that have seen Brentford at their very best. Whilst the trips to Burnley, Southampton and Everton have been amongst the real low points, faced with top six opposition the opposite has been true. The Bees raising their game to quite wonderful levels against Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. Blitzing Man United in that first half before eventually being outplayed and, of course, that wonderful win at West Ham – Wissa’s late, late winner still up there with my favourite moments of the season. As much for the reaction of the home support just to our left. Meow!!

A shame the club didn’t share the same passion for animal rights but, there you go.

West Ham away – wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

Even the visit from Manchester City in December only saw them win it by the odd goal in one. Again, there had been early chances for Brentford before our opponents showed their class and speed to break down the other end and open us up as easily as a can of baked beans. 0-0 and on the backfoot became 0-1 in a matter of seconds. Close but no cigar.

Will tonight be any different? Nobody gives us a prayer, that’s for sure. Whether blind optimism is enough to carry us through or Thomas Frank has something special up his sleeve will become clear when things start at 7.45 pm.

Bring it on !

There’d be scenes to rival this moment if we can get a result tonight

Nick Bruzon

The ultimate question is asked. And answered. In style.

11 Dec

Sometimes, words are not enough. You really had to be there to experience just what a 2-1 win for Brentford over Watford meant. To experience how it felt. To be part of the blood pumping final surge inspired by a first Premier League goal for Pontus Jansson and followed up with that late, late spot kick show. Noise which, if it continues for the visit of Manchester United on Tuesday evening, is sure to make what should be a walkover turn into a proper two horse race. Don’t @ me. The bookies have United at 3/5 on already. It’s up to us to prove them wrong, and cash in, again !

Yessssss!!! Celebrations at 2-1 !

That’s for then. For now, Saturday morning sees us still buzzing. Hornets stung by Bees. Watford played off the park but despite dominating, Brentford unable to find a way through or able to level the scores after Emmanuel Dennis had converted a corner midway through the first half. The patched up Bees line up (no Sergi, Ivan or Ethan) seeing Vitaly Janelt slotting in ably at left centre back and a start for Wissa up top. Chances coming closer and closer – one surging run and shot from Bryan in particular – but unable to penetrate the Watford back line. Claudio Ranieri’s team defending resolutely and looking like they may hang on to all three points. It felt like it may be another case of Brentford, Innit. Instead we pushed up and up. Pontus did his thing and then the ultimate question was asked. And answered….

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages, albeit the player piece will be up shortly. So for me, Clive, it gives a chance to cut straight to the chase. To those those frenetic final ten minutes. To Brentford continuing to push and the noise levels cranking up to near Messianic levels of adulation and exhortation. Pontus Jansson urging the supporters and players on. His goal coming at the back post after Marcus Forss had flicked on a cross from Vitaly. Peter Gilham so caught up in the moment he credited it to Charlie Goode. Something which, to be fair, upon catching the highlights this morning the Sky Cameras also did. Then, with the captain pumping fists in celebration, that awful wait for VAR.

From the stands, we weren’t sure if it was for offside or reviewing the hammy theatrics from Watford goalkeeper Bachmann. His otherwise fine performance finallly coming to a halt and, as Bryan tried to return the ball to the centre spot, collapsing on the floor (and taking Christian with him) like a sack of spuds. Offside was the review decisions to be made. Wait. Wait. Squirm. Scratch itchy bum. Wait. Wai… Yeessssssssss!!!!! The goal stands. Come on Bees. Come on.

Never in doubt. Errr

Six minutes to go. Pressure. Possession. Threat. The tension levels in the Watford end must have been through the roof. The solitary yellow flare that had greeted their opener now nothing more than an acrid reminder of moments long since past still siting at the back of the nostrils. Five minutes added on. Four. Three. Two. Here’s Norgaard.He stays calm. He threads it through to Samman in the box. The Iranian is scythed and referee Michale Oliver, a man seemingly with an aversion to waving yellow at Watford, at least gets this one right and points to the spot. Now, we have ‘that’ question.

Quite simply, who takes the pens in the absence of Ivan?

It was one answered in some style. Not just in the confidence of Mbeumo to march towards the spot and ignore more (understandable) theatrics from Bachmann but then in the technique. Nobody can replace Ivan but my word, Bryan came close. That trademark approach was there again. The goalkeeper committed into moving early and the ball casually stroked home. The eruption of noise so welcome. The celebration immense. The points secured. Brentford up to ninth in the Premier League and doing to Watford what Leeds had done to us on Sunday. What an evening. What a finish. What a time to be a Brentford fan.

Bryan’s already off with the net still rippling

We got back to The Griffin in time to hear not just Thomas Frank, but also Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, waxing lyrical about Brentford. Bigging up this team packed full of fortitude and never-say-die approach. About the intensity of the atmosphere inside Lionel Road. Not just to pull back the equaliser but then to keep on pushing for the jugular. Make no mistake, this was as much down to the fans as the players. That intensity at the end just amazing. Bring it to the Manchester United game on Tuesday and we could be in for an even bigger treat.  

After the somewhat subdued Everton game last time out at Lionel Road, this was next level. Both ended in three points for The Bees but, more importantly, this one sees us with our tails up. With smiles broad. With the party atmosphere continuing long into the night. Psychologically this was as good as it gets. Proof that we can raise our game not just against the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea but against those lesser fancied teams where we could be expected to win it from the off. 

There’s no such thing as an easy game of football. No opposition that should be written off. Despite Watford’s position in the table (and let’s not forget they put four past Man U the other week) they were no slouches. Solid at the back. Tough to breakdown. Understandably devastated, At the same time, football is about seizing the moment when it comes. Regardless of opposition. Last night, Brentford did that in some style. 

The momentum is with us. Now bring on Manchester United.

Celebrations at Full Time

Nick Bruzon

Perhaps we can call it a business meeting.

10 Dec

Friday night under the lights and Brentford host Watford. The 2-2 draw at Leeds United feels a lifetime ago already as the December fixture list continues to crank up. We’ve got Manchester United at home on Tuesday, the small matter of the trip to Southampton next weekend and then the league cup quarter-final a few days after that. Whilst by no means season defining, come out of this run with a few wins under the belt and there’ll a lot of smiles as we head towards the New Year. The other news of the day being Liverpool tickets are now on sale, but we’ll get there shortly. First up, Watford.

Charlie enjoys the point on his Instantgram

Cripes. The result from Elland Road was niggling on Sunday evening. That was then. This is now. Personally, I still feel it was a good point for Brentford in a ferocious atmosphere (Spurs could learn a thing or two – all the glitz and glamour counts for nothing if you can’t generate noise) even if it was deeply gut-wrenching to concede so late an equaliser. Lessons learned and all that. As Thomas Frank noted in the press conference for the Watford game, “When it is so close it is difficult to accept that you just lost two points, but we have this rule that you have 24 hours to celebrate and 24 hours to be disappointed. I constantly remind the players, staff, and myself about it. We came in Monday, and it was difficult because we were still in this 24 hour bracket. We were off yesterday and today I didn’t see any sign of any disappointment. It was just a group of players willing to train hard and concentrate”.

Philosophical to the last. As eloquent as ever. But he’s right. We can’t dwell on the negative or rest on our laurels when things go right. Use the moment, in either direction, and then move on. Very much a case of, if not so much going again, as taking each game as it comes. And if anyone has a spare crowbar, we‘ll continue to mangle our metaphors in tomorrow’s match update.

It’s all about looking forward to Watford (and more wonderful cover art on the programme)

For Brentford, there are two obvious casualties. Ivan Toney remains self-isolating as a result of that Covid test prior to the Leeds game. I’m not clear on whether that will still be the case for the visit of Manchester United but a rough count on my fat fingers thinks we ‘may’ be in the clear. hHis own health and fitness aside, of course. 

Ivan has been magnificent this season. The current leader in our game by game review to see who the top Brentford performers are (and you can find the latest look at our ‘top five’ here). Pulling in as big a defensive shift as that up top, he’s every manager’s dream. You can’t put a price on those additional elements to his game outside of the assists and goals. He really is the consummate all-round player and the stereotypical ‘first name on the team sheet’. As for who will step up should we somehow be awarded a penalty by tonight’s referee, Michael Oliver, then good luck calling that. 

One thing’s for sure, it won’t be Sergi Canos. He also misses out after stepping in for Ivan on Sunday. A fifth yellow card of the season means a one-game ban is now in force. It’s a crying shame for Sergi, and Brentford, given he had one of his best games of the season. Pushed up top from wing back (where Mads Roerslev stepped in admirably) he adapted quickly and after a slight positional shift, obliterated our opponents in that second half. The team up with Shandon Baptiste in particular bringing ongoing success as we took the game to our opponents and watched them fall apart. Again.

Sergi misses out

Instead, one can only assume Marcus Forss will step in and step up alongside Bryan. Thomas as already confirmed he was ‘that’ close to starting against Leeds and with Wissa continuing to be nursed back in to the team, it will surely be a place on (and appearance from) the bench for our talismanic late, late goalscorer. Let him come on and do to Watford what he did to Liverpool and West Ham.

All being well we can afford to rotate the team and the subs though choice rather than necessity. With the Manchester United and Southampton games following in close succession, having everyone physically fit will be as big a challenge as anything else. The Brentford casualty list already one which is stretching our troops although kudos to Charlie Goode for stepping up so well in place of Kris Ajer. Likewise, the return of Shandon Baptiste couldn’t have come at a better time.

The heart says it’ll be a win for Brentford. The head says I’ve maximum respect for Claudio Ranieiri. He has had the luxury of a relatively stable team in recent weeks, albeit one that has lost 5 out of their last 6 league games.The one outlier from there being the absolute ticking administered to Manchester United late last month. That 4-1 thrashing being the last straw for the Old Trafford board and, regrettably, jus ta few weeks too soon for us. Oh, to have faced a side in a trough of despair and supporter unrest rather than one that has a chance to reset. Still, that’s all to come. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much. First and foremost has to be Watford. Bring it on and see you there.

The one other piece of immediate news being Liverpool away tickets are now on sale. That game takes place Jan 15th and expect another sell out crowd ( home and away) for the trip to Anfield. One can only assume these will fly off the shelves as we work through the TAP barriers. We picked up ours yesterday. With ‘Plan B’ now in operation (a first if ever I heard one in TW8), let’s hope the’C’ word doesn’t get in the way of our party on Merseyside.

Hey, perhaps we can call it a business meeting. There’s certainly enough cheese, and the odd whine, on these pages.

The games come thick and fast

Nick Bruzon 

There’s a player return and a deep dive incoming from Thomas.

24 Nov

There’s some cheer in the air from TW8. We talked yesterday, in part, about the forthcoming visit of Everton to Brentford. In part, the referee but as much the visitors’ current list of absences and injuries. Certainly, if their defeat at Manchester City on Sunday is anything to go by. Its not pretty and, actually, scratching below the surface of the names mentioned previously, the list of potential absences seems lengthier. 

Fantasy Football Scout (granted, as official a yardstick as Football League World telling us that “These are the three players your club should buy…..” – Ronaldo, Messi and Haaland. There, saved you the clickbait) currently shows a significant list of doubtful players.

The suggested opposition

Bernard, Broadhead, Calvert-Lewin, Davies, Doucouré, Kean, Mina, João Virgínia, Nkounkou, Rodríguez, Sigurdsson and André Gomes all show as missing. As it stands. Demarai Gray is only rated 75% with Richarlison and Mason Holgate suspended. 

Yet for the Bees, the opposite could be true. In the build up to the Newcastle United game Thomas Frank mentioned how one player was getting closer and yesterday saw that further hinted at on the club’s social media feed.

Whilst Wissa ultimately played no part at St. James Park, Brentford ‘official’ published this photograph on their Instantgram page on Tuesday afternoon. Accompanied by the title, “Yo, Wissa!” And, for good measure, a fist bump emoji. Oh, those crazy kids in the caption department.

Guess who’s back….

Exciting news indeed. His appearances form the bench and game changing goals against both Liverpool and West Ham have already sealed him a place in Bees folklore. Not to mention the accompanying celebration. As with Shandon Baptiste, his absence accompanied the recent glitch in results that ran from Chelsea to Norwich City. Now, this new signing could be back in the mix and there’d be no complaints from anyone around TW8 if this does prove to be the case.

Thomas Frank’s press conference this week will be telling. Whilst I don’t expect him to show his hand (neither Wissa or Matthias Jensen featured in the matchday squad at Newcastle despite suggestions hinting to the contrary in the build up) we may get more of a clue as to whether this was nothing more than a PR photo or a sign that our latest cult hero is all set for another run out.

Perhaps the GPG can offer more of a clue? They were also publishing photos yesterday, posting this one on Twitter that shows Thomas Frank doing his best to channel a submarine commander or the captain of a North Atlantic fishing trawler.

Let’s hope the interview is a deep dive

Got to love that jumper. It’s immense. More importantly, the accompanying message promised further insight into what’s going on behind the scenes:

Excellent evening with a Premier League manager whilst we fired fans’ questions at him. Only at @BrentfordFC. Write up coming “soon”. Thanks to @chriswickham1 for making these things happen with fans and the top, top people at the club.”

Come on Trevor, get that write up ready. I want to know the scoop with Wissa. How serious David Raya is? What Thomas thinks of the season to date? Where does he get his knitwear? No doubt more to follow on this one. The story rather than the jumper. Although if there IS jumper news then all well and good.

Finally, many thanks to those who have been in contact regarding the new player performance feature. Very much a work in progress but it seems to be finding its feet now. Would appreciate any feedback: good/bad/indifferent. Likewise, who do you think should make the list? The latest one is here.

Otherwise, time to baton down the hatches until the Everton build up begins in earnest. That’ll be tomorrow, then.

Nick Bruzon

Can we be party poopers at the coronation of King Eddie?

19 Nov

And we’re back in the room. Brentford travel to Newcastle United this weekend on the back of a first real challenging streak in the Premier League. Recent form of LLLL takes no account of the performance against Chelsea or the shonky ref. Likewise Leicester City, where I’d imagine the midfield partnership of James Maddison and Simon Hooper will cause further mayhem for whomever they come up against next. As for Burnley and Norwich City. Hmmm . The Canaries will no doubt feel they deserved to win and three points will show this to be the case. The appointment of Dean Smith at Carrow Road something one could write an entire chapter on but that’s a subject for elsewhere. So we’ve been great, we’ve been unlucky and we’ve been downright awful. Injuries decimating us, too. Whatever the analysis and performance, it all comes down to wins. Or lack of. The net result is nil points and the hope that International break has helped recharge some batteries.

one of the few bright sparks recently

Which leads into Saturday afternoon. The game at Newcastle United is a sellout for the travelling fans. Presumably the home side, too, with Eddie Howe taking another opportunity to test himself away from Bournemouth. Things were average at Burnley (8th and 13th in the Championship) with his eventual departure for what were deemed at the time to be personal reasons and since confirmed as being due to the death of his mother rather than anything to do with being ‘homesick’ . That one’s here.

It’ll be manic at Newcastle. Their first home game under the new regime saw the lead taken against Spurs within three minutes before normal form resumed. Cripes, Spurs winning a game is reason enough to be worried about your own form but with the Magpies being the only top flight team yet to win a game, will the new incumbent have done sufficient in this relatively short time to change that around? 

Brentford head coach Thomas Frank gave a, perhaps, surprising assessment of the opposition in Thursday’s press conference. He’s told the massed ranks of the journalistic corps that: “We haven’t looked that much at Newcastle, apart from individual players, but rather what Eddie Howe did at Bournemouth in terms of shape and style. I expect them to come flying out, pressing us…. His profile is fantastic and stands for progressive football, front-footed pressing, and he wants to be dominant on the ball. I admired his job at Bournemouth a lot. I’m convinced that, over time, he will be a success at Newcastle

Over time. Let’s hope for sure it’s not immediate. Perhaps of more interst is his claim that we are not studying our opponents. One can only presume a bluff from Thomas that, surely, isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. Not even a cursory glance? Mind games and false messaging or just supreme confidence in our own ability, our own shape and our own players? Whatever that shape is and whomever they may be this time around.

With injuries continuing to bite there is some good news. Mathias Jensen is back from Denmark, has completed his quarantine following that Covid test result and so has been in training. Will he start or have recent performances now been deemed sufficient that a place on the bench is the best he can hope for? The availability of the broader midfield will determine that as much as anything else. Norgaard and Janelt nailed on starters for 2 of the 3 berths, even if the latter was below his best against Norwich. I felt.

Zanka will be assessed and Wissa is getting closer with Thomas due to decide today (Friday) if he is able to play some part. Likewise Shandon Baptiste who is deemed in contention to be in the squad. Kris Ajer and David Raya remain the key absences with the former due a scan at the end of the month to see how he is placed going forward.

For me, Clive, its as much as getting through this one unscathed. Obviously we want the win and there is still sufficient in the starting XI to beat just about anyone on our day. Yet with those much missed players starting to get close to a return, let’s not scupper this with any rushed return or further injury blow. Our luck on this front has been bad enough already. I’m amazed that Shandon Baptiste is where he is already after that dislocated shoulder but there you go. Hurrah for medical treatment. Yet with the busiest time in the calendar fast approaching, including that league cup quarter-final with Chelsea, keeping the squad fit is as crucial as picking up the points.

The atmosphere on Saturday is going to be nuts. All the focus on Newcastle United. Brentford nothing more than the bit part players at the coronation of King Eddie. The chance to be party poopers always a wonderful one.

I’ve no idea what any of Thomas’ talk means. Nobody will reveal their cards in public, that’s for sure. All we can say is that after the frustration of Burnley and Norwich, this is the perfect time for us to get back in the groove. Let’s hope we take it.

Bring it on and see you there.

Hopefully he won’t be smiling at full time

Nick Bruzon

Could this be the shock of the weekend? Or is it now expected?

14 Oct

We’re back. Brentford host league leaders Chelsea this weekend with another international break done and the chance to see if we can build on the quite wonderful performances at home to Liverpool and then, last time out, away at West Ham. Final thoughts on those are in the forthcoming edition of the matchday programme (along with other nonsense, subject to editorial discretion, including one covid related tale of woe). Alternatively, the previous columns from these pages are here (Liverpool) or here (West Ham) for those wanting one more look back at what happened as the games unfolded and the aftermath was very much enjoyed. It all seems a lifetime ago already. There’s been a trip to Gibraltar for the World Cup qualifier with Montenegro in between and now, of course, we have the prospect of a visit from the European Champions.

West Ham away – wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

“We’re coming for you. We’re coming for you. Champions of Europe. We’re coming for you.” Thus went ‘that’ song. Ad-nauseam it felt at the time, as the Bees prepared for a 2013 FA Cup tie against the Stamford Bridge outfit. A strong opposition were held 2-2 at Griffin Park, with a late equaliser from Fernando Torres sparing Chelsea from copious amounts of egg on face.

For me, Clive, of course it was an exciting build but oh that song went on. And on. Much like Oldham’s. Focus on f’ing promotion rather than singing to opposition that weren’t even there, listening or gave a monkey about what was happening in League One.

Chelsea were almost given the elbow at Griffin Park in 2013

That was then. This is now. Better form in the FA cup, several seasons in the Championship and our own reaching the Premier League mean that as it stands games like this are the norm rather than ad-hoc flashes in the pan demanding their own song. A blistering start to top flight life means we’re currently sitting 7th (seventh) in the table. A win would put Brentford just one point behind the leaders and whilst, in theory, that sounds about as far fetched an aspiration as they come, the season has already been packed with more drama and wonderful performances than an episode of Dream Team. Get warmed up, lads.

Much missed. Especially former Bee Andy Ansah

Arsenal. Beaten. Liverpool. Held in that epic 3-3. West Ham. Crying. Wolves. Humped. Raya. Gloves needed changing. Only one defeat and that in the final minute of Brighton’s gamesmanship masterclass. The new signings bedding straight in, Kris Ajer especially, whilst Yoanne Wissa is already well en-route to becoming a cult hero. Come for the late goals. Stay for the celebration.

It has been quite the incredible start to a season that has seen this little bus stop in Hounslow punching above the weight and expectation levels of just about everybody outside TW8. Those inside the circle knowing what we can do and what to expect, even if at times it does seem against the realms of probability. That Liverpool game being the quintessential example of our never say die attitude and desire to attack until the death. The one time we’ve played super cagey, the last quarter of Brighton’s visit, our undoing had an almost Bees like inevitability about it. It’s Brentford, innit.

Wiiissssaaaaaaa. As calm as Peter Gilham isn’t

That’s not to say we’ll turn up and beat Chelsea. Cripes, if the fixtures so far have been tough then this is next level. A quick check on my Fantasy Football squad this morning is a bleak reminder of the strength they have in depth, let alone the starting XI. Whichever one they opt to go with.

For Brentford, subject to injury –  Shandon Baptiste’s shoulder being the primary concern – its a safe bet who will start this one. As ever. Thomas Frank has enjoyed the luxury of his preferred starting XI playing to such a level that the only real selection decision has been who to bring on and when. Thomas Tuchel could probably chuck the car keys in a bowl and still come up with a team that the bookies would fancy to romp home. 

Indeed, the Bees are this morning priced at 26/5 to take all three points. As ever, nobody gives us a real chance. No surprise. Our opponents are as strong as they come. Their record and consistency over the last twenty years speaks for itself. If we’ve hit the ground running then they’re next level. Romelu Lukaku looks like he’s never been away whilst only Manchester City have taken a win off them. So far. 

Which is what makes football just the exciting thing it is. Nobody gave us a hope against Liverpool. There was similar from the other 6 games. We know what we’ve done and what we can achieve when all guns are firing. The funnest season ever is now cranking up even more, reaching previously unimaginable levels. That final moment at West Ham was about as good as things got. Now to see if we can pick up where we left off.

Of course it’s going to be tough. Some might say nigh on impossible. But if that’s the approach then why bother turning up? Genuinely, I’m convinced we will do this. As we’ve been saying all season, forget the calibre and reputation of the opposition. Play the moment. Play the game. Play as we’ve played so far. Of course we HAVE to be aware of who we are up against but there’s a distinct difference between being respectful and being in awe. 

I can’t wait for this one. Quelle surprise. Even that game at the Victoria Stadium to see Gibraltar go down 3-0 to Montenegro now feels second fiddle. Fun though it was. The home side weren’t given a prayer in that one, either, but I’ve got a rock solid belief we’re going to pull a few more pants down on Saturday evening.

If nothing else, this is a West London derby. THE West London derby. Move over Fulham. See you later Loftus Road. Brentford and Chelsea are currently the two best placed clubs, not only in this quarter but the entire capital. Bring it on and see you there.

International football provided relief in the absence of Premier League action

Nick Bruzon

West Ham undone by El Scorcho from Wissa.

4 Oct

Just magnificent. An epic finish of biblical proportions. Brentford head into international break with another win under the belt. Just when you thought it wasn’t possible to even come close to Liverpool last week, we went and did this. The latest moment of joy, a 2-1 defeat of West Ham at the Olympic Stadium that was as deserved as it was late. Surviving wave after wave of second half pressure, it was that man Wissa who popped up to fire home the winner in front of the Bees faithful with virtually the last kick of the game. The visiting fans went absolutely nuts. The home support in meltdown. Oh for a Rio Ferdninad or John Colby to have got in the way for them. Instead it was another three points earned, up to 7th (seventh) and now two weeks before we welcome Chelsea to Lionel Road.

Yesssss. Wiiiiissssaaaaaaaa!!!!

What a win. What a start. With Ajer missing and Janelt replaced during the warm up, Thomas Frank saw his plans further hampered by a shoulder injury to Shandon Baptiste. Yet this season is as much about strength in depth and the Bees played like a side posessed. Solid at the back but starting on the front front. Mbeumo hitting the top of the bar with minutes before scoring not long after. A fine break from Canos saw his shot only parried and there was Bryan to steer it over the line. ‘Keeper Fabianski shovelling it clear but the goal had already been chalked up, with VAR going through a momentary act of agreement.  

Twenty minutes gone and a goal up. An effort that was reflective of our dominance. A game that was threatening to be much akin to our solitary defeat, that by Brighton, where we had all pressure and no end product. This was different. Roared on by a packed and passionate away contingent, the Bees had gone for it from the off. Pushing men forward and breaking with pace. Rock solid at the back. It might have been double. The home side might have had some cheer but a header from Zouma was about as good as it got. 1-0 Brentford at half time and, despite the enforced substitutions, looking great value for the lead.

VAR confirms what the ref had already seen

And then the second half started. David Moyes can only have delivered the mother of all rollickings whilst the orange segments were being served up because his team re-emerged with with purpose by the bucketload. The manager losing his shit on the touchlines (more than once – here’s the ball…) and his team actually breaking with intent. Yet, somehow, the Bees held firm. Blocks, deflecting, fine saves. It was heart in mouth time as West Ham pushed and probed. 100 yards from the action the supporters giving it their all. Willing the Bees on to hold firm and we almost did. Almost. The clock running down with snail paced movement until, with 80 minutes gone, there was Bowen to fire home the equaliser through a crowd of defenders and inside the near post. It looked side netting from where we stood, binoculars primed by those in the upper tier, but alas it was in. Urghh. Look at what we could have won.

West Ham fans exploding with delight. Bubble machines making a half-arsed attempt to parp out their wares in cringe inducing celebration. Who needs gimics? Whatever. 1-1 and the Hammers continuing to push. Brentford, somehow, hanging in there. Three minutes of time added on and then, deep into this additional period a free kick awarded. Into the box we went. All of us barring goalkeeper Raya. Pontus with the sweetest of connections but once again Fabianski was there to get it clear. Not clear enough. It fell to the edge of the box where the unmarked Wissa kept his cool and despite a man bearing down on him, slammed a scorcher straight back from where it came with interest. Boom. Fabianksi no chance. The net billowing. Limbs. Scenes. Celebrations. Call it what you want, the first team piling on to each other. Even Raya running up to join in. The supporters united in ecstasy. Not knowing whether to celebrate with the team or the home fans stood just to our left who had been giving it large all game. Pantomime villains for 90 minutes and resorting the the role of petulant schoolboys.

Oh football. This is why we love it so much. There was barely time for the restart before the ref called it game over. An incredible ending to a wonderful game. Wissa immense. The balls on that man to connect so well but really it was more than him. It was all round effort. Another top, top team performance. If Liverpool had been amazing, this was up there for different reasons. There’s nothing finer than a last gasp winner and it was one that came in what was an archetypal game of two halves. It’s West Ham, innit? You almost had to feel for the home support. Almost.    

Brentford now three points off second placed Liverpool and a further off the top of the table. Our opening salvo of 12 from 7(seven) games perhaps beyond even the wildest dreams. Nobody gave us a prayer yet here we are again. West Ham the latest to be hit by the runaway bus. A huge arena silenced. The list of achievements that bedecked the middle tier to our left – 1964 FA Cup Winners… 1965 European Cup Winner’s Cup… 1966 World Cup winners – nothing but a reel of the past. A team with an impressive list of former glories but unable to match the moment when it came. Wissa rounding off an afternoon that will live long in the memory.   

West Ham. Winners ( in one respect)

Now , time to catch the breath. A few weeks off. Hopefully the injuries won’t be a severe as first feared although Baptiste’s shoulder, since confirmed as dislocated, isn’t the sort of thing you can just run off in five minutes. One can only imagine it’s going to be a prolonged period of time spent with our old friend, the anti-gravity treadmill.

Until then, time to reflect on about as exciting start to Premier League life as it is possible to have hoped for. It’s been nothing but fun and yesterday, following on from Liverpool the game before, had it all. Top flight football. Opponents steeped in history. Rival fans giving it their all. The bus stop in Hounslow doing it for fun. West Ham pointless. Brentford leapfrogging them in the table and another win under the belt.

Fair to say that top flight life is good. Long may it continue like this. Brentford proving that reputations count for nothing. Ours included. We ARE tinpot. We ARE a bus stop. We ARE put together through shrewd acquisition and team spirit rather than big money buys. And? We know it. We don’t, actually, care. The sooner other teams get used to it and play the 11 in front of them rather than the preconception then the easier they may find it. Until then, keep writing us off all day long.

That was a lot of fun. A lot..

Nick Bruzon